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Manhattan DA Bragg sues Rep. Jordan over attempts to interfere in Trump case

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has filed suit against Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan. The New York DA accuses Jordan of interfering in the state prosecution of former President Donald Trump. Jordan has been raising questions about the grand jury investigation of Trump, and he's demanded confidential documents and testimony from Bragg, as well as from current and former employees of the DA's office. Adam Klasfeld is managing editor of Law & Crime and he joins us now via Skype. Good morning, Adam.

ADAM KLASFELD: Good morning.

FADEL: So not that there's anything usual about this case, but how extraordinary is this move by the district attorney to sue a representative in the House?

KLASFELD: Well, it's definitely an extraordinary lawsuit, and the actions that preceded it and the case - it's all very extraordinary. Congressional committees have pretty broad discretion about what they can investigate. But what the lawsuit basically says is that it's not absolute. And interestingly enough, there - a lot of the outer boundaries of this were defined in another investigation of former President Trump. This was by Congress and it was Trump v. Mazars. And you can see throughout the lawsuit and the filings, they're invoking that precedent, saying, hey, it doesn't live up to the test that the Supreme Court established in that case.

FADEL: Now, the lawsuit calls Jordan's behavior a brazen and unconstitutional attack, a transparent campaign to intimidate and attack the district attorney. If you could just talk about what the lawsuit is aiming to do here.

KLASFELD: The lawsuit is, first and foremost, trying to quash a subpoena into former - the former deputy of DA Alvin Bragg, Mark Pomerantz. Basically, the subpoena said that Mr. Pomerantz had written a book about his tenure with the district attorney's office, had done a media tour of it, and therefore doesn't really have the same privileges to protect things that he's written about, that he's gone on TV to speak about. And what the DA is arguing is that the privileges belong to the office. They don't belong to him. So on a core level, they're trying to basically declare that subpoena invalid and prospectively get the judge to declare any future subpoenas that Jordan's committee or any other congressional committee might send to his office is invalid and trampling upon the 10th Amendment and the separation of powers.

FADEL: Now, what Jordan is trying to do with this subpoena, is there a basis for what he's doing and for his questions?

KLASFELD: Now, one of the things that the congressman has said - he said, well, we're looking into federal funding. This is - the DA's office has accepted federal funding into it. Well, we've looked into it. And basically, Jordan had claimed that the DA's office admitted to it. Well, they said the opposite twice. They said that federal funding - none of the federal funding actually went into the investigation and the indictment of former President Trump. So the basis will be determined by the judge, and it might go to that test that we were talking about earlier, established by the Supreme Court, Trump v. Mazars.

FADEL: What has Representative Jordan said about the lawsuit?

KLASFELD: He has basically said that Congress has the right to do this. He said that - talking about Pomerantz, that he has gone out and written this book. We have the right to scrutinize it. And this lawsuit essentially throws down the gauntlet to challenge those assertions.

FADEL: Adam Klasfeld, managing editor of Law & Crime. Thanks for being here, Adam.

KLASFELD: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.